Organizational Change Strategy

Few things are as daunting as organizational change, both for the change agent and the person being asked to change. The change agent can easily be overwhelmed by the immense task ahead of them, while everyone else tends to feel like to proverbial “old dog” being asked to learn new tricks. This is why it is so important for me to start with a common understanding of why, how, and what for my innovation plan. This common baseline will help to start everyone on the same page and establish a common goal for organizational change.

Building on that common understanding, then, I will have a basis to be able to explore how to motivate people to change using the Influencer model’s Six Sources of Influence. By addressing the structural, social, and personal spheres of motivation and ability, I will be more likely to meaningfully influence others in my organization to want to change. When we are personally motivated to change—that is, when we have ownership in the process—the project will be more successful.

Motivation alone, though, does not guarantee a project’s success. Perhaps more detrimental to the change process than lack of motivation is the project being choked out by the daily grind, or what the Four Disciplines of Execution calls the “whirlwind.” Having established a strategy to help motivate people, we must move on to execute that strategy through five stages of change—in spite of the whirlwind. This requires singular focus, commitment, and accountability.

Ultimately, though, the biggest impact I can have on an organization—whether I am the one in charge or whether I’m at the bottom or the organizational ladder—is going to be through the individual dealings I have with others. It’s also the area over which I have the most control. Enter the concepts of self-differentiated leadership and crucial conversations.

Much like in the Influencer model, Friedman’s concept of self-differentiated leadership understands the relationship between the social and personal spheres, but refuses to blur the line and descend into groupthink. One way of doing this is what Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler refer to as stating your path and asking for others to state theirs. They advise,

“So once you’ve shared your point of view—facts and stories alike—invite others to do the same. If your goal is to keep expanding the pool of meaning rather than to be right, to make the best decision rather than to get your way, then you’ll willingly listen to other views.” (p. 143)

Seeing myself as part of a larger whole, yet unique from it, also allows me to see others in the same way, which encourages the humility and respect necessary to successfully navigate these conversations. Treating others with this respect is a cornerstone of the Crucial Conversations methodology. Without this differentiation and respect, the techniques become mere manipulation.

Again, here, a common understanding of the “why” is important; Patterson, et. al. call it starting with heart. When change becomes confrontational, having established a common starting ground will allow us to come together for the already-agreed-upon common goal. Then, with that common goal established, we can work together to maintain a safe conversational environment where fear doesn’t dominate the exchange and both sides are able to openly yet respectfully share their ideas and concerns. Once agreement has been reached, then, we will be able to move to action together.

These very different, yet very similar, approaches to organizational change work together beautifully to minimize resistance to change and allow for maximum impact.


References

Using 4DX to Implement Change

While the Influencer  model–in particular the Six Sources of Influence (6SI)–deals with motivating and removing barriers to change, the Four Disciplines of Execution (4DX) model deals with the mechanics of bringing about organizational change. The goal of 6SI is to help an individual want to change, to be personally motivated and enabled to change, and support that with social and structural forces. The 4DX model largely operates in the structural sphere and employs a more “top-down” approach. Both models are helpful and appropriate for different situations, though 6SI is more broad and can be used by anyone to help encourage change.

The two models do have a lot of similarities and overlap as well. While using different terms, both models
discuss the importance of a primary, measurable goal which can be influenced by smaller, measurable actions. While not identical, vital behaviors are very similar to the lead measures and the measurable result is similar to the lag measure. Both models emphasize the need for accountability and a small, focused number of goals. Both prioritize regular, quick feedback.

Having looked at an example of how to apply 6SI to my innovation plan, another example using the 4DX model would be useful. Following this model will lead us through the 5 stages of change. 

Getting Clear

Success in the 4DX–especially in the early days–depends largely on how clearly the objectives are developed and stated. Our Wildly Important Goal (WIG) will be to decrease the number of incoming students needing to take developmental education courses. However admirable that goal may be, it is very difficult to gauge progress or success toward that WIG. Stating the WIG in the “From X to Y by WHEN” format, then, will give us an actionable WIG and lag measure.

WIG: Reduce the percentage of incoming students taking developmental education courses from 50% to 45% by the beginning of the Fall 2019 semester.

Lag Measure: Percentage of incoming students taking developmental education courses to total incoming students.

A few lead measures that would have a direct effect on the lag measure are the following:

Lead Measures:

  • Recruit Sauk-bound students for the college prep courses.
  • Improve courses with more authentic learning experiences
  • Collect full data sets for incoming students to identify other, earlier methods of remediation

A dashboard interface would be developed in the College’s reporting platform to show the following:

  • a graph for the lag measure should show at least 3 years of past data so a trend can be observed (since data for the lag measure can only be collected once a semester),
  • a weekly graph showing the enrollment in the college prep courses,
  • a weekly graph showing the level of engagement in the courses (activities performed, interactions recorded, etc.),
  • a weekly graph showing the count of students enrolled with/without full data sets collected, and
  • a series of graphs showing the data collected from incoming students.

Launch

A task force comprised of admissions representatives, academic advising representatives, and instructors would be assembled to begin weekly WIG meetings. Kickoff meetings could be scheduled for the beginning of semester kickoff day or mid-semester workshop day, to demonstrate that this has support from the administration.

Adoption

As adoption begins, care will need to be taken to celebrate achievements and keep on pace. Accountability is crucial, here, to avoid losing momentum and help to overcome resistance. Focusing on helping the “potentials” improve (instead of focusing on the “resisters,” which may be the tendency) will help keep spirits high and have more of an impact on the final goal.

Optimization

Particularly with the course quality and engagement lead measure, it will be important to look at ways to improve as the project moves into the optimization phase. As the data is analyzed, too, the plans can be refined and changed.

Habits

With a project like this, it is hard to imagine ever getting to the point where the project is “complete”–there will always be room for improvement–but seeing higher success rates for students and a new normal where more incoming students aren’t blocked by developmental courses will pave the way for the next WIG.

 


References

Influence Plan

Update 2/11/2018: Replaced original concentric circles diagram with an updated, clearer version.

If my innovation plan is to be successful, it will need to be supported by a strategy to influence Sauk stakeholders to take part in the process. For this post, I am focusing on just one facet of the plan–collecting data as part of the advising process.

Currently, the developmental education process at Sauk is pretty cut and dried. Depending on their placement test scores, incoming students are placed in the appropriate course. Incorporating other methods of placement such as the college preparation course I am proposing, though, introduces complexity to the process and so it also increases the chance for error. In addition, judging the effectiveness of the process will depend on collecting and analyzing as much data as possible.

Following Grenny, Patterson, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler’s model in Influencer  calls for finding a “vital behavior” to change and then applying six sources of influence. To achieve the result of having enough data to analyze the effectiveness of the plan, it is imperative that academic advisors collect as much relevant data as possible. While specific relevant measures still need to be defined, some examples of relevant data would include the following: high school GPA and specific course grades, ACT/SAT scores, at-risk markers, and participation indicators in college preparatory course (if applicable).

Therefore, for this influence plan, the vital behavior is to ensure that a complete data set is collected for at least 80% of incoming students. It is not reasonable to expect 100% collection as data may not be available for all students and some students may not be willing to provide all data points.

The Six Sources of Influence

The Six Sources of Influence arranged as concentric circles with Personal at the center.
The Six Sources of Influence arranged as concentric circles.

To be successful, I will need to engage all of the six sources of influence from Grenny, et al. While the matrix in Influencer is useful, I prefer to think of the model as concentric circles as it shows the difficulty of penetrating all the way to the Personal level as well as the relationship between the Structural, Social, and Personal levels.

Changes are easiest to make at the structural level, as they are what McChesney, Covey, and Huling call a “stroke-of-the-pen strategy” , a change that can just be made by saying it needs to be done. Structural changes will most directly affect the social level, which will in turn affect the individuals at the personal level.

Structural Motivation

Structural, or external, motivation could be accomplished by providing printed or digital materials (posters, computer wallpapers, etc.) that remind advisors to ask for all the information, not just the minimum necessary to get the student’s immediate needs taken care of.

In addition, some silly rewards such as “most math scores this month” or “collected 500 high school GPAs” could be given at monthly staff meetings. In addition to turning the data collection into a game, it will also help to encourage…

Social Motivation

…healthy peer pressure among advising staff. Between the healthy competition among advisors and the effect of seeing that other advisors are collecting the information, the social motivation will provide a powerful encouragement for advisors to remember to collect information.

Personal Motivation

Healthy peer pressure will help advisors to be personally motivated, but much more can and should be done to affect the personal motivation realm. One key way to do this will be to clearly contextualize the data by repeatedly discussing the overall goal of the project and sharing data as it becomes available. This will help advisors to see the results of their work and how it is helping to help students succeed.

Structural Ability

To help advisors’ ability to collect the necessary information, the most important structural accommodation will be to make sure the database and collection forms are user-friendly and easily accessible.

Social Ability

Good database design will also enable multiple advisors (and other personnel) to collect and enter information, decreasing the load on each individual advisor.

Personal Ability

Proper training, of course, is paramount to the success of any program like this. In addition to contextualizing the need for the data collection, training sessions can also equip advisors with clear descriptions of what data need to be collected and responses to common objections students may provide. A mnemonic device to help advisors remember the pieces of information that need to be collected could also be helpful.

I believe that, with these measures in place, 80% data collection is an achievable result and will contribute greatly to the success of the overall project.


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Why/How/What

In his TED Talk, “Start with Why — how great leaders inspire action,” Simon Sinek proposes a three-step process of Why, How, and What for communicating a product or idea. Here’s my application of Sinek’s model to my innovation plan.

  • Why: We believe that all students have the ability to learn and that we can help them succeed.
  • How: We can help students succeed by providing resources to self-remediate instead of blocking them with developmental classes.
  • What: We help students start college classes sooner so they can complete their program of study.

Starting with the shared belief that our college exists to help students learn and succeed draws on why teachers started teaching in the first place. They really want students to succeed and far more rewarding than the paycheck is the sense that they’ve been a part of changing someone’s life. Starting from there will make an emotional connection with my stakeholders; then, pointing to the fact that developmental education often blocks rather than helping the student succeed will help to create the sense of urgency Kotter refers to and which is so vitally important to creating change in the college.


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